Friday, December 31, 2010

Honours List

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Order of St Michael and St George (CMG)
Mrs Rene Mercedes Baptiste, for serv the law, international finance, culture and politics.

Pastor Dermoth Cosmore Baptiste, for serv the Christian fellowship and to the commty.
Bernard Oswald Morgan, for serv publ administration.

Winston Godwin Bacchus, for serv teaching and education.
Ms Germaine Monica Rose, for serv early childhood education and to the commty.
Robert Adolphus Sandy, for serv the Police, the law, and consumer affairs.

BeingGARIFUNA blog has moved to

Readers of the BeingGARIFUNA blog may have noticed that they haven’t seen regular blog posts from BeingGARIFUNA.  Well, there has been a reason for the small hiatus.

I (Tio Teo) have been in the process of moving the BeingGARIFUNA blog for some time now, and was finally able to finish it up yesterday.  While there are some loose ends I need to tie up technically, website-wise, I was mostly able to do it.

This blog started on the platform and I have officially moved it over to the domain Same blog (for the most part) except now it is 100% under the URL.
A special Seremein (“Thank You” in Garifuna) goes to all the readers who have subscribed to this blog on  Your sustained readership (and engagement with me by way of comments under posts, emails, notes on Facebook, etc) has meant the world to me and I hope I haven’t disappointed you all in my role as an INDEPENDENT chronicler of Garifuna news in the United States and in the world. Hopefully you all will be able to continue to follow BeingGARIFUNA.

Due to the move to, things will change slightly.  I have to figure out how to set things up so that interested people can keep being updated on new posts.  Most likely I will set up an RSS feed.  Stay tuned, for I will figure it out soon.  Keep in mind that I am learning website development as I go along, so there will be many bumps, bruises and hiccups along the way.

Why the move?  It was time.  Also, as I have developed the Being Garifuna blog, it became obvious to me that expansion was necessary as the blog continued to grow and attract readers from all over the world.  Now, in addition to a blog, it’s expanded to a full website, where there will be one section for news (the Being Garifuna blog) where readers can leave comments if they like and other sections for essays, articles, etc that will serve more as a resource of information on all aspects of Garifuna culture, life, etc.

Happy Holidays to all and I wish you all the best in 2011 as the Garifuna community strives for bigger and better things in the United States, Central America and the Caribbean.  Happy New Year!  Happy 2011!  See you at the Being Garifuna website!

BeingGARIFUNA Blog has moved to
Copyright 2010 by Teofilo Colon Jr  (a.k.a. “Tio Teo”)
New York City —

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ins and Outs 2011

Just got this in my email.....

Hi Karl,

Just thought I’d let you know that the 2011 edition of the Ins & Outs of SVG is now available.... you can pick up copies from the SVG Hotel & Tourism Association at the airport.... You can also view the entire publication online at Hope you enjoy the new edition!!!

Warm regards and very best wishes for the year ahead,

Ins & Outs of St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Christine Wilkie
Miller Publishing Co. Ltd.
St. Thomas, BB22118,
Tel: (246) 421-6700
Fax: (246) 421-6707
Cell: (246) 262-5876

Visit us online at:

Join us on Facebook:

.................if you can't pick up a copy at least look at the version on the internet. It is marvelous


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Forest Destroyed

Saint Vincent and Grenadines: Natural Forest Destroyed During Tomas

Source: Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Date: 29 Dec 2010

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says Hurricane Tomas, which battered St. Vincent and the Grenadines last October, has caused an estimated 31-million dollars in damage to the natural forest.

The Prime Minister made the disclosure during a News Conference at Cabinet Room yesterday 28th December 2010..

He noted that the country's forests were severely impacted by the passage of the storm

Dr. Gonsalves said Government the Recovery and Reconstruction Process requires a tremendous amount of resources.

Christmas In Layou

By a Peace Corps volunteer see:

SVG Not Tagged!

The "Tag Manager" of the UK Guardian wrote a peice at

that mentioned in passing that St. Vincent and the Grenadines was the only country in the world that didn't even have a tag in their system, much less a tagged news story in 2010. I added the following comment:

'm surprised that you have no tag for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We suffered as much damage from hurricanes in 2010 as St. Lucia. We just had an election that was quite close and quite nasty that took place on December 13 and which the leader of the opposition threatens to challenge even though the Government invited international observers who praised the handling of the election and certified its validity. Both of these were events that were as worth covering as events that happened in other Caribbean countries. It would be fair to say, I think, that the reason St. Vincent and the Grenadines has no tag in your filing system is the fault of your system and not the lack of internationally newsworthy events happening on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

You might review the last few years on St. Vincent and the Grenadines if you look at my blog at:

Monday, December 27, 2010

by Oscar Ramjeet

I have been following the general elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines very closely, as I did with the November 25 referendum last year. In fact, I have written several commentaries about them.

I must say that I am not at all impressed with the leader of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP). He is flip flopping and does not deal with the important issues, and moreover he makes statements that he cannot support. For example, he alleged fraud at the general elections. He said that there were reports of persons voting in constituencies where they do not live and that voters attempted to vote twice, adding that the NDP was particularly concerned about the outcome in two constituencies won by the ULP.

Eustace's alleged fraud statement came more than 36 hours after the election results were announced and I listened to several opposition speakers on radio on election night, including vice president of the NDP, St Clair Leacock, and there was no comment about alleged fraud. The NDP leader in his statement said that he would raise his concerns with the Organisation of American States (OAS). Does this make sense when the ten-member OAS team reported that the elections complied with international standards?

The OAS team was headed by distinguished Ambassador Frank Almaguer, who in a statement said, "in every case observed, the polls opened on time and had the requisite materials and polling officials. In the morning, there were long lines of voters who patiently waited to exercise their franchise. The Presiding Officers, poll clerks, party agents and police worked harmoniously throughout the long day, helping citizens to find their polling stations and ensuring an organized and peaceful environment."

The OAS mission concluded by saying that the election was conducted with minimal incidents and compliance with international standards for inclusiveness and transparency, and later the OAS secretary general, Jose Miguel Insulza, issued a statement saying, "The people of St Vincent and the Grenadines have once again demonstrated their commitment to democracy in a peaceful manner."

What is very disturbing is that Eustace said he would raise the issue of fraud with the OAS after Almaguer's statement and even after the secretary general made his favourable comments about the conduct of the elections. Moreover, there was no adverse comment coming from the CARICOM observers.

The allegation of fraud is an excuse for his poor leadership, and he is now saying that his party is considering filing election petitions, and lawyers are considering private criminal complaints against citizens suspected of violating the nation’s electoral laws, but it seems as if those were merely threats, and now Eustace is singing a different tune. He is now saying that his party will use its position in the new Parliament to force Ralph Gonsalves government to call fresh elections within a one year period.

The question is, is Eustace capable of forcing the ULP out of office? He said so because, five months after James Mitchell handed over the leadership and the government to him, he allowed Comrade Ralph to oust him from office. He now says he will give Gonsalves the fire since they (UDP) speak of "keep the fire burning". I do not see this because the leadership of the NDP is extremely weak. In fact, I feel that Eustace should resign because he lost all three elections as opposition leader... in baseball after three strikes you are out.

I must say that I am surprised at Sir James Mitchell, a three-term prime minister (almost four) for making an irrational statement accusing CARICOM secretary general Sir Edwin Carrington of "getting involved in the politics of St Vincent and the Grenadines". Carrington went to St Vincent and St Lucia to have a firsthand look at the massive destruction caused by the storm. Taking a photograph with Gonsalves and the secretary general praising the Gonsalves administration for the quick response to Hurricane Tomas can never be political involvement.

Gonsalves, as the smart, tactful, and astute politician as he is, took the opportunity to pose with Carrington to gain political mileage and Carrington should not be blamed.

I note with interest two new portfolios in the Cabinet -- National Reconciliation and Wellness. I sincerely hope that these new ministries will try to heal the wounds and try to bridge the gap between the two parties. There must be unity for the country to move forward.

I also hope that Comrade Ralph will stick to his promise and listen very attentively... and, as he said, will interpret very keenly.

He should remember that he barely scraped in and should work assiduously to win the support of some of the 48.39 percent of the electorate that did not vote for him. He should remember at all times he is the prime minister of the entire St Vincent and the Grenadines, with four portfolios (maybe five, because there is no minister of justice) and not merely leader of the ULP and its supporters.

Friday, December 24, 2010


The internet version of the current Skyways Map of SVG can be found at:

Comments on the Elections

Note from Karl: I try to avoid partisan politics, but this is interesting just as prose.

Who else went to both the Argyle super-rally and the Taurus Riley super-rally? Who else listened to both Astaphan and Lynch on talk radio? Who else went to both the ULP and the NDP’s post-election rallies? Who else is gonna stop, analyse and give you 4,000 words on the General Elections? No one but VP.

Here we go:


Ralph Gonsalves: One year ago, the political obituaries had been written. The referendum campaign had blown up spectacularly in his face. There were allegations of rape and sexual harassment. Lynch and NICE radio were vilifying him daily. The national economy was limping along. He was a “lame duck” Prime Minister, said the NDP. Arnhim Eustace crowed that he, Arnhim, was “the man in charge.”

What a difference a year makes.

D’ Comrade rolled the dice, jettisoning more than half of the incumbent ULP MPs (Rene Baptiste, Glen Beache, Mike Browne, Conrad Sayers, Douggie Slater, Louis Straker, Selmon Walters) plus 2005 contestant Julian Francis. Half of the new faces succeeded, and exactly half of the ULP’s eight MPs are rookies (Saboto, Agustus, Ces, Maxwell).

Like Gonsalves said after the election, “a win is a win.” And he is PM for five more years. That’s the point of the contest: to win the elections and be Prime Minister, right? He has locked down (most) of the Windward side of the island, and is reasonably well positioned for a 4th ULP term (more on that later). A win is a win. And a winner is a winner.

“Major” St Clair Leacock: Leacock is the biggest winner on the NDP side. He worked hard in his constituency for 10 years in opposition, building alliances and influencing the youth vote. He portrayed himself as the only man with the “guts” to take on Ralph Gonsalves (not the brains; not the vision; the guts. In that sense, he’s right). Better than that, the NDP’s golden child, Linton Lewis, got his but kicked again in East St. George.

Believe it or not, “Major” Leacock is now the odds-on favourite to take over the NDP after Arnhim accepts the reality of three straight defeats. Which means that Leacock will soon be 2,000 votes away from the Prime Ministership of SVG. Leacock could not have imagined a better outcome. For his personal ambitions, this result is even better than an NDP victory.

(Sidenote: I will NEVER be able to take this man seriously if he keeps calling himself “Major.” He was in the frikkin CADETS!!! He basically did marching drills! SVG has no army, but he’s a major?!? And why doesn’t anyone else who was in the cadets refer to themselves by their “military” rank? Where are all the other generals and majors and lieutenants and sergeants from the Cadets? Why don’t we refer to retired police officers by their rank? This is so dumb.)

Saboto Caesar: In 2010, there was a swing against the ULP in almost every constituency. In terms of margin of victory, every ULP victory was slimmer than the previous election. Except in Caesar’s South Central Windward. True, he only increased Selmon Walters’ 2005 margin of victory by a mere 2 votes, but he also picked up 157 votes more than Walters got. And he had to contend with literally two plane-loads of NDP voters being flown in to his constituency on the eve of election, most of whom voted in Greggs.

Saboto is also now the heir-apparent to Gonsalves’ leadership of the ULP. He’s smart, handsome, charismatic, hardworking and winner of a solid ULP stronghold. None of the other rumoured pretenders to the throne (Luke Browne, Camillo Gonsalves, Glen Beache, Rene Baptiste) can claim all five of those attributes. Right now, the only thing standing between Saboto and Ralph is Ralph himself. And Ralph seems “well pleased” with his young apprentice. Giving Saboto the Ministry of Tourism – arguably the second-most-powerful ministry in the government – is a clear indication of the Comrade’s blessing.

Clayton Burgin: Clayton has strong disagreements with verbs. And nouns. And adjectives. He didn’t have the educational pedigree of most of the 2005-2010 ULP cabinet. He didn’t seem particularly well-liked in East St. George. And he was going up against none other than Dr. Linton Lewis – heir apparent in the NDP, with the glittering sports background, academic quality, and successful business.

Guess what? In 2005, Clayton beat Linton by 700 votes. In 2010, he beat him by 692. In five years, with a national swing against the ULP, Clayton slipped a mere eight votes against a quality opponent. Give jack his jacket. The man is a winner.

Daniel Cummings: The licks Daniel Cummings put on Michelle Fife should have him jailed for assault. Quick, guess the two seats where the NDP won by the biggest margins. If you picked North and South Grenadines, you’d only be half right. Cummings beat Fife by 513 votes. Only in Bequia did the NDP do better, in terms of raw votes. West Kingstown is now a safe NDP seat in the next elections. The reason for that is equal parts Cummings and Fife (more on her in the “Losers” section), but the fact is that the two NDP candidates who will worry least about their seats in the next election are Friday in Bequia and Cummings in West Kingstown.

Unfortunately, he is as mad as a hatter, so no one will seriously consider him for leadership of the NDP. Insane people don’t usually make good leaders (see Gairy, Sir Eric; Hitler, Adolf; Caligula, Caesar).

Julian Francis: After the referendum, Julian Francis got demoted. He was stripped of his ministerial post and asked to go back to what he does best, which is organizing rallies and mobilizing crowds. He was given 12 months to revive a dispirited base of support, and he was given no money to do it. Look around town to see how badly the ULP was outspent in this campaign: Hardly any posters. No foreign entertainment. No fireworks. No cool ladies t-shirts and sleeveless tees and backpacks like last time (in fact, some really cheap shirts, and not a lot of them either).

But three of the four biggest crowds of the campaign were ULP crowds (Victoria Park twice, Argyle once – the fourth was the NDP/Taurrus Riley event in Victoria Park). That’s not an indication of support (remember the biggest crowd of the referendum was the YES Vote/Busy Signal event), but it is an indication of energy. Francis got the base out to vote. And the ULP base is still a bit bigger than the NDP base.

The grumblings are already starting about his reappointment to a ministerial post. Fair enough, he’s not a likable guy. But in a reduced cabinet of limited experience, you need some people who just get things done. Francis has proven that he’s one of those people.

The Grenadines: If you wanna know how pissed I am that the Grenadines are two seats, take a browse through some of my previous posts on this blog. Simply put, there are not enough people in the Grenadines to justify it being two seats. Which means that a Grenadine vote is worth almost twice as much as a mainland vote. Which is unfair. And unconstitutional. And wrong. As far as I'm concerned, the ULP didn't win 8-7, they won 8-6. Looks kinda different, doesn't it?

But here we are again, counting the Grenadines as two instead of one. So they win again.

Check this out: Godwin Friday won the Northern Grenadines in a romp, with 80% of the vote. But Friday’s TOTAL VOTES (2,019) would not have earned him a victory in ANY SEAT ON THE MAINLAND. In fact, seven losing candidates on the mainland got MORE votes than Friday got in his landslide victory! (the losers of East Kingstown, Central Kingstown, South Leeward, North Leeward, East St. George, West St. George and Central Leeward).

Make it worse: Terrance Ollivere’s comfortable 63% victory in the Southern Grenadines came on the strength of a mere 1,112 votes!! Excuse me, but WTF?!? On the mainland, only one of the 26 ULP or NDP candidates got less than 1,112 votes, and that was the NDP’s sacrificial lamb in the Comrade’s constituency.

Put it another way: About 4,300 people voted in the North and South Grenadines combined. If “the Grenadines” was one constituency, those 4,300 people would be the third-smallest constituency in the country (11th out of 14 constituencies).

But, somehow, 4,300 people in the Grenadines get to elect two representatives to Parliament. But the 5,200 voters in East St. George only get one. Ditto the 5,000 in South Leeward.

Crazy. But as long as it continues, the Grenadines win.

Que Pasa: Que Pasa backed the NDP hard in this campaign. Mucho dinero was distributed by him and his minions, often with the faces of dead American presidents. I dunno if its cuz Que Pasa hates Ralph, or Julian, or ULP policy; or if the NDP had promised to make his tax and money laundering issues go away if they were elected. Let's just say that the man spent a lot of his money and used a lot of his time to get rid of the ULP.

Que Pasa’s zone of influence runs up the western coast of St. Vincent from West Kingstown to North Leeward. Guess what? The NDP won three of the four seats on that coast – up from zero in the previous election. Was that all QP’s doing? Of course not. But he helped.

In North Leeward, particularly, QP and the underlings of the extradited Dexter Chance did a great job in mobilizing the ganja farmers and drug runners who usually sit-out election events.

In North Leeward, Jerrol Thompson actually got 71 MORE votes than he got in 2005, when he won the seat. But Patel Matthews grew by 187 votes. A ridiculous 114 of those 187 new votes came from tiny polling stations in Chateaubelair and Petit Bordel. Guess where the drug barons’ stronghold is?

Que Pasa is now a major player in Vincy politics. And that scares me. It scares me a lot.

Vincy Patriot: After the referendum, I was questioning my powers of deduction, analysis and prophecy. After all, it was yours truly who famously said before the referendum: “No way in hell Arnhim gets 51%. Thirty-five percent? Likely. Forty percent? Possible. Fifty-one? Never in a million years.”

But who came roaring back after the referendum? VP, that’s who! 12 months ago – a full year before the election, and back when everyone was predicting a 13-2 ULP defeat, I dropped this tasty nugget on ya’ll:

“So, if everything broke in the ULP’s favour in the next 12 months, and they got their apathetic voters energised, they’re looking at an 8-7 win.”

As it was written, so was it done. I even picked the exact seats that could/would go to ULP and NDP! VP’s powers of prophecy restored!

And for ye doubting Thomases, I also predicted (a) a Nov/Dec election date; (b) that the only “referendum reform” that the ULP would attempt is the increase to 17 constituencies; (c) that the ULP would go with fresh faces while the NDP would go with old veterans; and that (d) Julian Francis would “whip the party machinery into fighting shape in time for the silly season.”

From now on, you can call me Vincy Nostradamus* I’m like Sex Panther cologne: 60% of the time, I work every time!

* past performance not indication of future success.


Arnhim Eustace: I dunno how to tell you this Arnhim, but its over. You haven’t come to terms with that yet, and that’s OK. It’s been a long hard battle. But at some point, your NDP buddies are gonna have an intervention for you. They’re gonna give you a 12-step program. The first step is gonna be acceptance of the fact that you’ll never be PM. The 11th step is gonna be your relinquishing the post of Leader of the Opposition. And the 12th step is you stepping aside in East Kingstown for either Linton Lewis or Louise Mitchell.

Arnhim ran an awful campaign. He had the money. He had the referendum result. He had a global financial crisis. He had voter discontent. All he needed to do was to harness all of it. To ride the wave.

But damned if he didn’t find a way to screw it up. He ceded control to Mitchell. To SCL. To Lynch. He talked “kinder and gentler” out of one side of his mouth while simultaneously descending into gutter politics. He had some members of his team spouting “meritocracy” while others promised to “christen NDP pickney first.” He was downright schizophrenic on major issues like the airport. He hard weird press conferences where he made pie-in-the-sky promises that no one believed. He bitched over an over about minor election discrepancies instead of looking like a leader and letting his underlings sweat the small stuff.

He blew it.

Linton Lewis: If you wanna be leader of the opposition, if you wanna be prime minister, the first thing you gotta do is win a freakin’ seat. That’s job #1. Not bragging to welsh newspapers that you are tipped to succeed Arnhim. Just win a damn seat first.

Sure, Linton is running in a traditional Labour/ULP seat. So I understand if you lose it once. Twice. But three times?!? Against CLAYTON BURGIN?? People say that Clayton may be the dullest knife in the ULP’s kitchen. Yet Linton, with all of his qualifications, and background and bearing, managed to gain a whole 8 votes on Clayton in five years.

The average swing towards the NDP on the mainland was 300 votes per constituency. Linton gained 8. That tells you all you need to know.

Fact is, the more you know Linton, the less you like him. Fact is, he hangs with too many gangster guys and impregnates too many minor girls. Hate to say it, but for all his smarts, he is a sleazy guy. And people can sense that.

Linton’s only shot at parliament is to be installed as Arnhim’s successor in East Kingstown or Terrance’s successor in the Southern Grenadines. But why would Arnhim or leader-in-waiting Leacock ever agree to that?

Michelle Fife: All ULP candidates lost in Kingstown, so no great shame in that. But like I said, in an election where the average swing to the NDP was 300 votes, Michelle managed to preside over a 548-vote swing away from the incumbent. Like I said, West Kingstown is now the safest NDP seat outside of Bequia. And Michelle can be blamed for quite a bit of that.

She was arrogant. She was green. She was shallow. She listened to the wrong people, alienated the wrong people, and displayed zero political instincts. And she ran the worst campaign of any candidate not named Burton Williams. I think her political career is over. And if it isn’t, it should be.

If there is a silver lining to this, hopefully it is that we put to rest this limiting stereotype of women in politics that was forming. The old men that run political parties in SVG seem comfortable with young, shrill, shallow, windbags (see Fife, Michelle; Fredricks, Vynette; Baptiste, Anesia) and scared sh!tless of mature, sensible, substantive women (see Baptiste, Rene; Mitchell, Louise). Now that Michelle and Vynette have flamed out, maybe we can get away from tokenism and non-threatening female stereotypes. Women are out-graduating men in SVG at a 3-1 clip at the university level. And Michelle/Vynette was the best we could find?!?

SCL: The SCL website bragged that they’d never lost a campaign. The SCL leader said policies and programmes be dammed, all you need to do was to connect with the electorate on “an emotional level, to get them to act on a functional level.” It’s what Hitler did, he said. From the shadows, SCL has orchestrated SVG’s 10-year descent into the nasty, divisive gutter politics that we have today.

Well, like Lauryn Hill says, “you might win some/ but you just lost one.” Hopefully they’ll slink off to some other exotic locale to practice their dark arts. And if they wanna stick around, the first thing our new minister of national reconciliation should do is deport their Limey asses.

Vynette Fredrick: I called Vynette a windbag over a year ago. I was tickled to see a Jomo Thomas column in the Vincentian where he used the same adjective. Someone must have told her once that the loudest person wins the argument. She shouldn’t have believed them.

Vynette is one of the most charismatic people in the NDP. But after her performance over the last few years, she is also one of the least respected.

And tactically, she was a complete dud. She misread the importance of the internet in campaigning. And I don’t think it’s because she’s ahead of her time. I think its cuz she’s too lazy to go knocking on doors. And she spent more time fighting Arnhim’s East Kingstown battles against Luke Browne than she did against Ces McKie.

Now that she hitched her wagon so surely to Arnhim, it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of her. Arnhim may wanna make her a senator, but the rumour is that neither Leacock nor Sir James think very highly of her.

I think her future lies in some kind of Lynch-style rabble-rousing. But she may yet see the light and make something of herself. For now though, she’s a loser.

Girlyn Miguel: Why is SVG’s first woman deputy prime minister in the “loser” column? Because she ran against a dimwit candidate and barely beat him in an NDP stronghold.

Sure, the newspaper will tell you that she beat him by 568 votes, which was the 4th-largest ULP margin of victory. But Girlyn’s margin of victory declined by a whopping 689 votes from the previous election, and she lost 173 votes from her 2005 vote total. No other ULP candidate on the mainland lost more than 77 votes from the previous election total.

Those kinda numbers speak of rapidly declining personal popularity. Stick a fork in her, she’s done as a candidate.

Luke Browne: During the campaign, Luke supplanted Saboto as the ULP’s golden child. The NDP took him to court. Vynette ambushed him on radio. NDP bloggers attacked him. All those mothers and aunties in the ULP embraced him. On election night, as the results were coming in, everyone was asking: “is Luke beating Arnhim”?

Not even close.

The conventional wisdom on Luke was that he’d get more votes than Julian in East Kingstown, particularly among the suburbanites of Cane Garden, and that his “non-Julian-ness” alone would make the race tighter. Add to the Rhodes Scholar bit, the youth, the good looks, the charm, the work ethic. . . he was the long shout that every ULP supporter was praying for.

Turns out, Julian Francis wasn’t the reason ULP lost East Kingstown. Arnhim Eustace is the reason ULP lost East Kingstown. Luke actually got LESS votes that the evil Julian Francis got in 2005. And the promised Cane Garden “bounce” was a mere 26 votes. And every one of those 26 votes – and more – were lost in Sion Hill.

Luke worked hard, but not smart. He had trouble connecting to the man on the street. And he couldn’t overcome three major issues: (1) people in EK don’t like his dad; (2) he was too young/new for some people; and (3) Kingstowners thought NDP was gonna win the election, so they voted for the guy who they figured would be Prime Minister.

Luke isn’t dead politically. He’s made a name for himself. His best bet now is that Leacock manages to force Arnhim into a premature retirement. If Arnhim steps down from the NDP leadership and quits his seat, you gotta like Luke’s chances to win a by-election.

“Book smarts”: Lets compare last year’s parliament to this one. You’ve lost two medical doctors, a lawyer, and three masters degrees. In the 2010 elections three lawyers got their asses handed to them. A Rhodes Scholar was sent packing. And a known pedophile is in parliament (OK, that last one isn’t related to schooling, but still).

The parliament, and the government’s cabinet, have suffered from “brain drain.” On paper, things seemed to have dumbed-down a notch. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. There are many more perspectives and viewpoints in this parliament. And I think that a lot of those university-educated ministers on the ULP side were pretty damn lazy and aloof. Coming from Milton Cato’s 8-lawyer cabinet, this parliament is a humungous improvement.

Women: Women, to use Gonsalves’ phrase, “owned de campaign.” Especially on the ULP side. Men, unfortunately, are owning de government. I think this is the first time under Gonsalves that he has not named at least one woman to the Senate. I understand that Fife is political toxic waste, and that Forde is reportedly with child. But jeez, some estrogen would have been nice (Girlyn and the attorney general are so old that they don’t have any more estrogen than I do).

Women were pigeonholed into some unflattering stereotypes in this election: windbag. . . accuser. . . voting cattle. Gotta change. Gotta change now.

Negative Campaigning: It didn’t work. 10 years of Lynch didn’t work. A decade of Ralph-bashing didn’t work. Lies, slander, accusations and commess didn’t work.

Let’s put it to bed, shall we? I hope that the postmortems of both parties conclude that the talk-radio scandalmongering is a waste of time. I hope they get a clue. And a plan. And a vision for SVG. Let’s see how THAT works, for a change.

The NDP: This was their election to win or lose. And they lost it. They never made the transition from raucous opposition to showing that they were ready to govern. They botched their positions on the airport and on education. Their manifesto was a joke. They were not united. And they lost more momentum in 12 months than anyone not named Barack Obama.

The NDP blew it. And they have stuck themselves in opposition for another 5-10 years.


OK. First off, this blog is too damn long already. So the fun analysis and prediction bit will come in the coming weeks/months. But lemme sketch it out for you:

The NDP is in trouble.

See, on one hand, I don’t believe in 4th terms. Hardly ever happens in the Caribbean. So the NDP has history on its side. The ULP formed government after a brief tenure as an 8-7 opposition, so the NDP has history on its side again. They could do it. They SHOULD do it.

But. . .

BUT. . .

They got problems.

Problem #1 is that in the next elections, the ULP already has 6 sure seats: North Central Windward, South Central Windward, South Windward, Marriaqua, East St. George and West St. George.

The NDP has 3-4: North and South Grenadines, West Kingstown, and maybe Central Kingstown (if Leacock is then leader of the party).

The next election would be fought in 5 constituencies only: North Windward, East Kingstown, South Leeward, Central Leeward, and North Leeward. And the NDP would have to win 4 of those 5.

Why do I say that? Swings baby, swings.

The average mainland seat swung 300 votes in 2010. That was when everything was against the ULP. Lets say that the average swing somehow gets up to 400 votes per constituency in the next election. Every seat with a greater than 400-vote margin of victory is therefore a “safe” seat in the next election. If you check our history, that pretty much holds up (with a few exceptional exceptions).

ULP only won 8 seats, but they won 6 of those 8 by over 400 votes.

NDP won 7 seats, but three of those were by under 400 votes.

Those 5 are your marginals. And the ULP is in better shape there.

Problem#2 is speculative: The global economy should be stronger. The airport should be complete. The hospital in Georgetown should be done. Kids should have their laptops. In other words, the environment may not be so bad for the ULP as it was this time. The NDP, on the other hand, may be in flux. If they can reinvent themselves in the next 2 years, great. If Arnhim is still hanging on, and Leacock is still trying to supplant him, it won’t end well.

Problem #3 is those 17 constituencies. NDP managed to stall the creation of two extra constituencies using the courts. But that stalling won’t last another 5 years. Parliament has already decreed that there will be two new constituencies. Its gonna happen.

Now, the logical place for the two constituencies, based on demographics, are (1) between East St. George, West St. George and East Kingstown; and (2) between South Leeward, Central Leeward and West Kingstown. Guess what? The St. George’s seat is an almost automatic ULP seat. And any leeward seat that doesn’t include Campden Park is a pretty solid ULP seat too.

So if the ULP stands still, and does nothing other than let parliament’s law get enacted, their slim 8-7 majority is actually a 10-7 majority!! The NDP doesn’t need to win one more seat in the next election, they need to win two.

* * *

Check the blog in a few for a fuller break-down of the data, and what Vincy Nostradamus thinks it all means. Watch the trick of predicting an election result a full term in advance...
Posted by Vincy Patriot at 4:36 PM

Anonymous said...
You need to promote your writings more.
December 23, 2010 10:58 PM
Anonymous said...
Great analysis of the elections to date. Need more persons as your self more vocal and neutral.
December 23, 2010 11:00 PM

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spirit-Filled and Emancipated Living

KINGS-SVG Publishers is pleased to announce the publication of 
 “Spirit-Filled and Emancipated Living” by Vincentian, Laura Anthony Browne.
The new book is a compilation of meditations presented on a Methodist-sponsored radio programme in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) entitled “How Great a Flame” during three months of 2010.

The book is divided into three sections of five meditations each. 
The first is based on the “Fruit of the Spirit” examining each grace and
urging Christians to fill their spiritual basket with these graces. 
The second section examines the freedom of a Christian and looks at how
fear and pride, among other vices, can keep people in bondage.
The third section examines the small, powerful and uncontrollable tongue,
which may yet be tempered with pure “peaceable and gentle wisdom,
full of mercy, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."

Says one commentator: “These meditations are well researched and presented
and there is a depth of spirituality emerging from this writer...”

Laura Anthony Browne is a Lay Preacher in the Methodist Church in SVG.
Substantively she is Director of Planning in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in SVG.

The retail price of the book (paperback, 122 pages,
ISBN: 0-9778981-6-4) is US$16.95 plus shipping and handling 
 (US$3.95 in the US, US$5.00 to Canada and US $10.00 to the Caribbean and the United Kingdom, by airmail). 

To order, please send us your name, address and payment (check 
 or money order payable to KINGS-SVG) to: Baldwin King, P. O. Box 702, 
 Madison, N.J. 07940, U.S.A . You may also place your order through our 
 website: (Click on Bookstore). Our  

Reconciliation and Good neighbourliness: Ralph Gonsalves

Our nation has just emerged from a bruising, divisive, and even hate-filled general elections.  Preceding these elections was a decade of lies, innuendos, defamation, scurrilities, and hatred spewing forth from talk-radio especially on one radio station.  All of this has been motivated by a partisan political quest for power laced with an unnecessary malice.  This campaign of vilification has not succeeded in accomplishing its political goal.  Surely, it is high time for its perpetrators to grasp the futility of their strategy and tactics and take a different tack.  The mass of Vincentians are fed up with all their poisonous rhetoric.  The Christmas Season for the year 2010 is an opportune time for the excessive partisan bickering, libel and slander by some political elites and their associates to give way to reconciliation and good neighbourliness in the nation’s interest.

By far, most of our people are good-natured but too often the antics and utterings of some political leaders and their close confidantes undermine this elemental good-naturedness and engender an unworthy divisiveness.  As a nation we waste too much time and energy on these negative matters and spend too little unselfish, personal effort on nation-building.

My government has extended its hand of friendship and cooperation to the opposition but the response has not been encouraging.  The people and their non-governmental organisations have a vested interest in ensuring that national reconciliation, unity, and good neighbourliness prevail.  The people and their organisations, including the structured Christian Community, must stand up and demand a far less polluted framework for public discourse and actions.

Peace, reconciliation, unity, love, good neighbourliness, and redemption are at the heart of the Christian message, the celebration of which we collectively share at Christmas in commemoration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

In announcing the Cabinet recently, I allocated to a Minister, Maxwell Charles, the portfolio of National Reconciliation, among other subjects.  This is a clear indication of my government’s seriousness in engendering a lessening of harmful political partisanship and character assassination.  Maxwell Charles is well-suited to assisting us all in this effort given his history of active engagement in pastoral work.

At Christmas 2010, I ask us all to remember well the poor, the afflicted, the marginalised, and the disadvantaged.  We must embrace them, not scorn them; we must help them, not chase them away.  We must love them dearly.  In so doing, God will bless us and everything that we put our hands unto.

I urge that we all be moderate in our consumption of food, drink, and revelry.  Let us be ever mindful of the central purpose of Christmas:  Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All Men and Women.  This reminder is as much for us at home in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as for those abroad in troubled lands.

I realise that our daily travails and preoccupations often leave us insufficient time to reflect on the greater meaning of life.  Christmas is a time for that introspection and reflection.  I pray that we all find peace in ourselves and show goodness to all our neighbours.

I wish you a wonderful, blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2011!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Turtles & Tourists

In the necklace of islands that make up St Vincent and the Grenadines, picture-postcard beaches and encounters with turtles are simply part of life (Saturday, 18 December 2010)
By Matthew Bell

It was the turtles. They were what turned me. I had never been much of an underwater kind of person – air is what I like to breathe, not seawater.

If anyone suggested snorkelling on holiday, I tended to smile vaguely and look the other way. I've always hated that moment when you sink into the water, weighed down by Timmy Mallett-size fins, feeling like you're going to drown. I disliked the snappy little mask vacuum-packing your eyes, and water drip-dripping into your nostrils while you tried to empty the breathing pipe. No thanks. But suddenly, it all made sense. It was worth it. Because there I was, on a Tuesday lunchtime, swimming with turtles.

That's a sentence I now want to write every December. Why didn't anybody mention how simple it all is? Legs back, face down and, serenely, you float on the surface. The fins miraculously buoy you up, instead of pulling you down. And there, just an arm's length away: a beautiful 200-year-old hawksbill. Greyish green, he was about the size of a coffee table, a square bald head on a leathery neck. A bit like a headmaster I once knew.

Actually, he can't have been 200 years old, despite what Orton King, the turtle expert, said. I checked afterwards – the oldest turtle ever recorded lived to 188. But they are extraordinary creatures: unlike my headmaster, they can change sex, and lay eggs on the beach.

The only rule of snorkelling with turtles is that you don't touch. But protocol doesn't dictate how long you spend with each turtle. I think I overstayed my welcome with him. I had been stalking him for nearly 15 minutes and, to be fair, he was eating his lunch. I had already had mine, a buffet on board the catamaran off which I had just plopped. I had chosen swordfish in a sweet Caribbean marinade, a little coleslaw on the side. He was having the algae, just a few tufts sprouting off the seabed. Nothing fancy.

But then it happened. He stopped, turned and fixed me with a withering look, before paddling away. It's a sight I shall never forget. He really was that headmaster. Except this wasn't an Oxford school room; this was St Vincent and the Grenadines, and a more exotic place it would be hard to imagine. St Vincent was once called Hairoun, meaning "land of the blessed". Today, those in the know call the necklace of 32 rocks draped along the eastern fringe of the Caribbean "SVG".

I met the turtle in Tobago Cays. This is an archipelago of five uninhabited rocks halfway down the chain; it has nothing to do with Tobago, the island off Trinidad. Until 1997 it was privately owned, but the government bought it back and turned it into a National Marine Park. In 2005 turtles started congregating here. Nobody really knows why. Perhaps they wanted to catch a glimpse of Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley, who filmed Pirates of the Caribbean here. We certainly did, all dutifully taking our cameras out as we sailed past Petit Tabac, a Robinson Crusoe-size mound, where Jack Sparrow was apparently marooned. (Never seen the film, myself.)

The one thing I knew about the Caribbean before arriving was that the sea is 1,000 shades of blue. I left Gatwick with the travel editor's words ringing in my ear: "You're banned from using the word 'azure'." Well, in Tobago Cays, the water is an electric green, like shining a torch through a Fortnum and Mason bag. Scientists say the luminosity is thanks to shallow water over a white sandy seabed, which reflects the sunlight. And boy, is it beautiful, even if the sky didn't live up to its side of the bargain, being 1,000 shades of cloudy.

Explorers say the last place on earth to be discovered will be the bottom of the sea. Now I know what they mean. There is a whole other world down there, so teeming with weird, colourful creatures, it looked like the set of Finding Nemo. Here were parrotfish and squirrelfish; striped fish and spotted fish; fish that looked like brains; some that came straight at you, grinning; others that swayed in rhythmic shoals. I did try to learn their names on the boat out, but gave up on trying to tell a "Secretary Blenny" from a "Sergeant Major". I needed to take the book down with me, but they wouldn't let me. I think I made out the "boring coral", the official name for the bits that don't look like a Lady Gaga headpiece.

Tobago Cays is no secret among the yacht set, who like to moor up in the shallow water between its five rocks, creating a sort of floating millionaire's car park. One Christmas Day, someone counted 177 boats here. On one morning, I, too, felt like a yachtie: the previous night I had shared a few rum punches with a Canadian couple named Rory and Lisa. I spotted them across the water. We hollered to each other as our boats passed. OK, so theirs was a fully crewed 60-footer, mine a day-trip catamaran. But that, reader, is the good news about SVG. To enjoy these islands, you need not wear pink shorts and call yourself a sailor. A network of ferries and light aircraft makes it possible for landlubbers to hop about, truffling out your particular favourite.

I started with a half-hour flight from Barbados to the biggest island, St Vincent. It's the commercial hub of SVG, a working island most tourists hurry through in search of that paradise beach. True, banana plantations, not piña coladas, are the main source of revenue here. But if you have time, St Vincent offers the most authentic insight into the local culture.

I spent a night in the capital, Kingstown. It's an attractive and busy port, laid out like Naples, around a bay, with a shark's jaw of spiky hills behind. Last Monday was SVG's general-election day, and the capital was festooned with campaign posters. "We naaah tun back", was the Red Party slogan; "Enough!" retorted the Yellows. (The Reds won.)

There's been a fighting spirit here for years. The island resisted colonisation longer than many in the West Indies, and the British and French spent much of the 18th century quarrelling over it before it eventually came under British rule. Grenadine House, where I stayed, used to be the British administrator's house, and is all white verandas and wicker. Today it's been swallowed up by suburban sprawl, but being high up, the terrace makes a good spot for watching boats to-ing and fro-ing in the harbour.

I was at the mercy of the inter-island ferry timetable, and had time only for a midnight swim in the pool and a few hours' sleep before catching the boat to my next island. But I didn't leave without learning my first local phrase. Standing half-heartedly in line on the dock, I felt a man push past. "Hey," I said. "I'm in the queue." "Sorry, man," he said, "I thought you was just breezin'." I did a lot of breezin' after that.

After Barbados, which is mainly flat, and St Vincent, which is largely hilly, you find the Grenadines are emphatically one or the other. I headed for Bequia, pronounced Beck-way, which is very much of the up-and-down sort, a ridge of hills running through the middle. It's like a small version of St Vincent – authentic, but not so hectic.

I had been here before. Not in person, but in my childhood dreams, because there used to be a framed photo of Bequia on my bedroom wall. It was a present from a St Vincentian (or Vincy, as they say) friend of my mum; the frame had real sand on it. But what I liked most about it was that it wasn't how you would expect a souvenir photo from the Caribbean to be, all coconut trees and Bounty-bar blue. Instead, it showed a small harbour, a beaten-up trawler and an old wooden jetty. So I knew what to V

Cexpect as the ferry pulled into the perfect half-moon bay of Port Elizabeth, Bequia's principal – and only – town. I couldn't spot the trawler, and the jetty looked bigger, but what the photo had accurately captured was an atmosphere of shabby calm, a world ticking along at half-speed.

By now I had been travelling for a day and a half since leaving snowy Gatwick (about four hours after the airport reopened). All I wanted was to splosh into the water that demanded to be called "azure". The culture could wait – I wanted that Bounty-bar beach. So I headed to the Bequia Beach Hotel, a 10-minute drive away, which promised a sheltered sandy beach (and an infinity pool, just in case).

There are plenty of beautiful beaches on this island, but surprisingly few hotels. It's something the Swedish owners of the Bequia Beach Hotel hope to capitalise upon, by expanding their existing 23-room hotel into a low-key resort – a mixture of seafront suites and private villas. The location is superb, bang in the middle of yet another half-moon bay, Friendship Bay, on the opposite side of the island.

Nine miles across the water, Mustique's profile crowns the horizon. It's a useful reminder of the thousands of pounds you're saving every time you wonder whether to order another rum punch. Everything here is at least two-thirds cheaper than on the island across the water that has hosted Mick Jagger, Princess Margaret and David Bowie (though not all at the same time, or at any rate in the same room).

Bequia gets a share of celebrities: Jude Law was here at New Year, and Rachel Weiss sashayed across the beach the other day. They weren't the first, though: former British Prime Minister Anthony Eden had a hideaway villa next door to the hotel, which is now available to rent.

The resort itself is not quite finished: a second showpiece swimming pool is under construction and builders saunter around the grounds. But the standards are high. My room was cleverly tiered, so I could see the sea from the pillow in the mornings. The bed was so wide it could have merrily fit Pop and Ma Larkin, and all the Darling Buds of May. For more private families, each suite has a separate child's room.

After swimming, and a spot of breezin', it was still too early for rum punch. So I took a tour of the island with Garvin, a poetic local guide. It was a leisurely drive through palm trees and plantains, the occasional burst of red bougainvillea cascading on to the road. The island measures only seven square miles, he told me, and has 6,000 inhabitants. He showed me the rows of rainbow-coloured boats, back from catching fish to sell to Martinique. Many of them are run by members of his family, the Ollivieres. We passed the old coconut-oil factory, closed after the last government decided coconut oil was too high in cholesterol for the people.

The biggest excitement on Bequia are the whales: every year the island is allowed to catch four, which they hand-spear from tiny fishing boats using wooden harpoons, and haul on to a designated platform in the middle of Friendship Bay. On the day of a catch, everyone stops what they're doing and rushes to the water to party. "If they caught one today, I would not be showing you around," said Garvin candidly. Despite such evident local enthusiasm, there have been calls for a tourism boycott from opponents of whaling.

At the whaling museum, Garvin showed me a picture of his ancestor, Athneal The Greatest Whaler. He earned his title because he once caught a whale straight in the heart, with a thrust of his spear. But Garvin says he is not brave enough to follow in his footsteps. "I would have to change my heart first," he said.
My next hop was not for the faint-hearted. By now I was ready for the ultimate desert island, where the only commerce would be the sale of seashells on the seashore. So I headed for Palm Island, a privately owned resort. To get there, first you take a light aircraft to Union Island, where the wafer-thin landing strip is sandwiched between the sea and a mountain. With only eight seats, everyone gets a good view, especially of the beads of sweat on the pilot's neck as you aim for the mountaintop, before a swoop down to the water.

Minutes later, an open launch was thrusting me across a scudding sea to Palm Island. This could be the one, I thought, eyeing up the slash of white beach and king-size hammocks swinging in the distance. And Palm Island is certainly small: 135 acres to be precise, 135 football fields to be approximate. There are no roads or cars, and you can cycle round it in 20 minutes. It's the kind of place you might want to see out your days. Perhaps that's why it used to be called Prune Island.

The name was changed by John Caldwell, a Texan sailor, when he bought a lease on the island in 1966 for £1 a year. In those days, like Mustique, the island was just a swamp, so he dredged it and planted hundreds of palm trees, discreetly hiding bungalows among them. Now, there are 43 suites, two restaurants and a spa. It is very much a resort-only island – there is no indigenous population. The clientele are of a genteel age, and the décor is very comfortable, if, like the guests, a little dated. But it's the sense of space that thrills – not just in the rooms, which are private and absurdly big, but across the island. Even when the resort is at full capacity, it feels empty.

The thing about Palm Island is that they like you to stay for at least a week. Who's complaining? If you get bored, there's a spa, swimming pool, library, gym, games room, an attempt at a nine-hole golf course and a bar that doesn't close until the last man leaves. And of course there's always the snorkelling. That's not a sentence I ever thought I would write. But then, I had never been swimming with turtles before.

Friday, December 17, 2010

From The Economist

Dec 14th 2010, 22:24 by M.W. | PORT OF SPAIN

THE Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) is best-known as a group of left-wing governments led by Venezuela and Cuba. Not all of its members are anti-American firebrands, however. Some, like St Vincent and the Grenadines, are simply small Caribbean island nations looking for friends on all sides. In 2005 Ralph Gonsalves, its prime minister, brought the country of around 100,000 into PetroCaribe, Venezuela's subsidised-credit scheme for oil exports. Four years later he signed up for ALBA itself. St Vincent has benefited from the relationship with cheaper fuel for electricity and with machines used in the construction of a new airport.

After holding a large majority in the country’s small Parliament for nearly ten years, Mr Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party faced a general election on December 13th. It held onto power by the slimmest of margins, winning eight seats to the opposition’s seven. It seems that the domestic political struggles of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s radical president, are not carrying over to his Caribbean allies.

The planned airport, to be named Argyle International, has been Mr Gonsalves’ signature initiative since he announced the project in 2005. The country’s current airport lies in a narrow valley and cannot accommodate big planes, forcing travellers from Europe or North America to make an overnight stop on a nearby island. But the country is a jumble of volcanoes, one of which ( is still active. To clear space for a runway, the government must remove inconvenient hillsides and fill in awkward valleys, raising the project’s original estimated cost to $178m—a whopping 44% of GDP.

Mr Gonsalves hoped to finance the airport by selling state land and receiving aid from Cuba, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Mexico and Taiwan. However, the fiscal deficit has been rising since 2008, when the economy, based on tourism and bananas, turned south. And five years on, it is not clear how many of the donors have actually written cheques. Much of the work so far has been done by labourers from Cuba using equipment supplied by Venezuela, two of Mr Gonsalves’ ALBA allies. The promised completion date is now June 2012.

These setbacks did not bode well for the electoral chances of the prime minister’s party. Moreover, the opposition sought to make the election something of a referendum on Mr Gonsalves’ foreign policy, using the slogan, “You must decide if you want Chávez deciding your future.” But the extroverted 64-year-old, a lawyer of leftist roots with a Ph.D. in political science, ran an effective campaign, rallying voters with catchy tunes by prominent local artists.

“ Me and me neighba, voting for Labour, we voting for Comrade Ralph ( ”, blared the voice of Skinny Fabulous, a Soca ( singer, through the speakers at Mr Gonsalves’ rally at the airport site two days before the election.

Mr Gonsalves’ victory is certainly a small boost for Venezuela. In addition to joining ALBA, the prime minister has also flirted with Iran and Libya. But Mr Gonsalves’ affection for Mr Chávez has not been reflected domestically.

Most of the country’s residents retain family and cultural ties with North America, or with more prosperous English-speaking islands such as Trinidad or Barbados. Its market-oriented economy is geared towards attracting rich foreigners to Mustique and other islands in the Grenadines: last month developers announced a $100m “boutique ultra-luxury” hotel and marina. Mr Gonsalves has already had an airport catering to high-end tourists built on the island of Canouan. Unlike Mr Chávez, “Comrade Ralph” has no intention of frightening investors or their clients away.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gonsalves' narrow victory

Originally printed at

By Rickey Singh
December 14, 2010
RALPH GONSALVES is scheduled to take the oath of office today (Wed) as St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister for the third five-year term he won at Monday's general election with a very challenging one-seat majority for the I5-member House of Assembly.

Putting a bright, reassuring face to such a narrowly avoided defeat by Arnhim Eustace's New Democratic Pary (NDP), Gonsalves, 64-year-old lawyer-politician, said in a telephone interview yesterday (Tues): "I am not daunted by the narrow victory. Clearly I would have preferred to win at least two more of the seats that we lost by narrow margins. But our victory came with the endorsement of more than half the voting electorate (almost 52 percent)...

"This is not a time for triumphalism (in a third term victory) but to reach out to those of our fellow citizens who voted for the opposition (NDP) which has now lost three general elections in a row under its current leadership...."

Indeed the challenge to govern that Windward Island country, whose largely tourism and agriculture-based economy is, like the rest of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), been experiencing a comparative downward trend, could prove quite daunting for the manoeuvrability capacity of the charismatic Gonsalves.

Equally, though his problem is of a different nature, the NDP's 65-year-old leader, Eustace, an economist, may find that he does not have much time to spend on thinking how close he came to becoming the new Prime Minister from Monday's poll results.

The harsh arithmetic of the official preliminary results, as made available to this columnist yesterday by Supervisor of Elections, Sylvia Findlay, reveal how very close victory came for Gonsalves' ULP and defeat for Eustace's NDP.

Of an eligible electorate of I01,000, some 32,356 or 5I.43 per cent voted for the incumbent ULP, while 30,I74 or 47.96 per cent of the valid ballots were cast for the NDP.

The final official results are expected today (Wed) but arrangements are already in place for Gonsalves' swearing-in ceremony, while the NDP's Eustace must now face the unpleasant political reality that he has led the party into three successive electoral defeats in a row.

Therefore, while Gonsalves manoeuvres to steer his third-term administration out of rough political waters with a likely ten-member cabinet (he had I5 in the last government), Eustace may have to contend with the reality that rumblings about 'time for leadership change' can become more distinct within the NDP where current speculations include at least a vice-president among potential candidates.

At the 2005 general election, the ULP had won its dozen seats with a 55.26 per cent of the popular votes to the NDP's 44.68 per cent for its three seats.

But at last year's national referendum for a new republican-style constitution, the governing party suffered a surprising defeat when it failed to secure a required 66.07 per cent endorsement with the NDP's "no" votes totalling 55.06 per cent to the ULP's 43 per cent.

Objectively, therefore, it could be said that the opposition NDP failed to maintain the momentum of its victory from the referendum, while the governing ULP proved unsuccessful in its tense battle to recover sufficiently from that defeat to secure a comfortable working majority.

Both contenders for state power are known to have received election campaign funding from overseas sources with the NDP introducing as a scare tactic, "Venezuelan (read President Chavez)influence in our governance", and the incumbent ULP warning of "external threats to our sovereignty".

Meanwhile the guessing game has already begun about what happens should one of the eight MPs of the governing ULP be enticed to cross the floor in parliament to team up with the NDP.

That could prove counter-productive for the particular MP—either a newly elected one or one from the previous ULP administration. For it is to be expected that the crafty Gonsalves would quickly move for a dissolution of parliament to pave the way for a fresh general election.

It needs to also be borne in mind that crossing-the-floor parliamentary politics is a game that could be played by the ULP also. For a start, as a government it would have access to resources to make it worthwhile in attracting an opposition MP more than the NDP may be able to offer a parliamentarian to defect.

For the present, there is the very difficult task facing Prime Minister Gonsalves of ensuring political stability with democratic governance and economic progress. Minus, of course, the kind of theatrics that, surprisingly, keep surfacing in the governance of Trinidad and Tobago with a mix of political double-speak, threats and tantalising courtship.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vincentians give ruling party a third term

by Kenton X. Chance

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent -- The Unity Labour Party (ULP) led by Dr Ralph Gonsalves, 64, won 8 of the 15 seats at stake in Monday’s general elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines and was returned to office for a historic third consecutive term for a labour government.

The party resisted a tough challenge from the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), which increased its representation in Parliament by winning four seats more than the three it did in the 2001 and 2005 elections.

Dr Ralph Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party have been returned to office for a third consecutive term
The ULP bucked the trend in the Caribbean, where historically ruling parties have lost general elections after failing in a referendum.

It has also given pundits much to think about, having won the election without taking any of the Kingstown seats.

The victory has given Gonsalves the opportunity he said he needed to groom a new generation of ULP leaders and to consolidate some of his party’s policies, including completing the international airport at Argyle.

The elections might have also sealed the fate of NDP leader Arnhim Eustace, who, at 65, has led his party to a third consecutive defeat.

The ULP held on to the eastern corridor of mainland St Vincent, while the NDP won the three Kingstown seats, two of the three Leeward seats on the western side of the St Vincent and the two Grenadines seats.

Neither Gonsalves or Eustace or any of their spokespersons were immediately available for comment after the preliminary results were announced.

However, NDP vice president, St Caire Leacock, who won the Central Kingstown seat, said on radio that the blame for the loss was a shared one.

He said his party was too slow in responding to what the ULP dubbed an education revolution and the emotional attachment citizens have to the international airport under construction at Argyle.

Leacock further said that the NDP, by increasing its mandate, has been able to buy time, adding that, had there been a 12 to 3 result again, no one would have wanted to hear about the party for a long time.

He said the party needs to look for “fresh legs”, saying that such persons are around but the party needs only to find them. (Caribbean News Now)

Ralph Gonsalves retains power in St Vincent

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuesday, December 14, 2010 – Dr Ralph Gonsalves, has led the Unity Labour Party (ULP) to victory for the third time in St Vincent and the Grenadines. 

However, it cannot be said that the ULP has been given a clear mandate to rule as preliminary results indicate that the party failed to retain its 12-seat majority for the first time in three election cycles. Instead, early indicators are that the Gonsalves-led party won a slim majority with eight seats in the House of Assembly, while the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) more than doubled its share to seven seats from three. The Green Party also contested 13 of the 15 seats up for grabs but failed to secure any.

NDP leader Arnhim Eustace comfortably retained his East Kingstown seat but it is now left for the party to decide whether the 65-year-old development economist and former Caribbean Development Bank director will be the one to lead his party into the next battle now constitutionally due in five years. 

NDP hopefuls had banked on the islands' economic hardships and suspicions over Gonsalves (also known as “The Comrade” by ULP faithful) ties to Leftist leaning Governments in Venezuela, China, Iran and Libya, as being enough of a deterrent. The party's candidates decried Gonsalves as having an autocratic style of leadership and pledged to weaken the country's ties with Venezuela and Cuba. Speculation was also rife that yesterday’s high voter turnout was a signal that a change in administration could occur. 

However, as Gonsalves predicted, the ULP won a third consecutive term in office as voters seemingly agreed with his campaign argument that he was best suited to lead the country of 110,000 people as it tries to rebound from the global economic slump. The attorney-at-law trumpeted on the campaign trail a record of poverty reduction and improved access to education while arguing that his forging deeper ties with international partners such as Venezuela and Cuba was part of his strategy for fiscal survival on a tighter budget.

Under his leadership, St. Vincent was accepted as a member of the Venezuelan-led Bolivarian Alternative for the Nations of Our America bloc that paved the way for St Vincent to receive Venezuelan oil on concessionary terms at the height of escalating world fuel prices. Iran also sent US$7 million in aid for several local development projects in 2008.

The Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community both sent observer missions to monitor the elections.

Monday, December 13, 2010

ULP Wins

The ULP has won the election, winning 8 seats yo the NDP's 7

My wild ride through an internship abroad

Submitted by Dave Rideout Mon, Dec 13 - 4:53 AM

Here I am in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as one of 20 youth interns dispatched around the world, part of the Youth In Partnership program. Before leaving Halifax, catching the bus was a rather inane activity: Wait at a stop, board the bus, take a seat and ride in silence until you’ve reached your destination.

This morning, as usual, I wake to a chorus of roosters crowing, dogs barking, and the bustle of workday traffic just outside my new home. Climbing out of bed, I leave my fan on to stave off the heat as I get ready — it’s already reached 30 C by 7 a.m. After I pack my bag and take a cold shower, I grab some fried breadfruit, wave ’bye to my host family and stroll to the end of the driveway to hail a bus.

In Kingstown, service is provided by private operators, and figuring out their system, and its nuances, is about as exciting and challenging as finding yourself living and working in an entirely new cultural setting.

The hood of each bus is emblazoned with its own distinct name like Snoop, Code Red, Young Bloodz or Toppa, and each bus has its own distinct personality. Some drive with the traffic, but others speed and dangerously overtake cars on blind corners. Some vans are plain, while others are painted bright yellow and sport racing tires. Each vehicle has its own custom sound system that blasts a different genre of music. As a regular rider, I find myself feeling energized by the beats of reggae, hip hop or Jamaican dance hall en route to the office.

The people I know here in Saint Vincent have personalities even more distinct than the busses. My boss here at the Caribbean Farmers Network loves to cook, insisting we sample all the West Indian cuisine, from dasheen to callaloo soup. As I taste-test, my boss loudly and jubilantly greets the other staff, all by the friendly nicknames he’s given them and never by their real names. The animated conversations in dialect that ensue leave me smiling but almost always baffled.

Sitting down at my desk, he leaves me with a list of tasks and minimal instruction; trusting my past experience and the trial-by-fire Caribbean work style will encourage adaptability and independent thinking.

In this network of nearly 500,000 members, it is my job as a communications researcher to work with small farms from across 13 countries. I try to figure out how they can work together to build capacity, mitigate crop risk, recruit youth and work with stakeholders to gain better access to national, regional and international markets. Agriculture has been the backbone of the Caribbean economy, including that of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, but hasn’t been garnering the attention that it needs to remain sustainable and profitable.

As a young communications and development intern, six months just doesn’t seem long enough to stimulate beneficial and lasting change, especially as a North American, my sense of urgency to finish work quickly often clashes with the relaxed Caribbean pace of life. With language obstacles, new food, and completely new surroundings, there have been moments when I’ve felt overwhelmed. I’m starting to think that maybe this experience abroad isn’t only about offering what I know but more about honing my ability to observe others, learn new perspectives and adapt to new environments outside of my Canadian context.

Speeding along the roads of this beautiful island with green mountains to my right, crystal blue sea to my left and Vincentian Soca music in my ears, I bus to work each morning knowing that development, and communications specifically, are very fluid fields of work. They require that we understand those involved as both individuals and as members of a community who, together, have an ultimate stake in what lies ahead.

Just as every bus I wave down brings a new and exciting ride, I can’t wait to see what lies around the next corner.

Dave Rideout is a young Haligonian selected for an internship in the Caribbean by the Canadian International Development Agency and the Coady International Institute.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

HMS Manchester to Visit SVG

As part of the Independence celebrations, a British Naval vessel, the HMS Manchester, will visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines this month.

The vessel is a Type 42 Batch 3 Destroyer and is approaching her third decade of service in the Royal Navy.

However, through extensive modernization, it remains one of the most potent weapons platforms in the world.

Superintendent of Police, Michael Charles, said the vessel will take part in the National Independence Parade on October 27th.

SVG Today

Friday, December 10, 2010

OAS Electoral Observer Mission to SVG

December 10, 2010

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza has named Ambassador Frank Almaguer, the OAS Secretary for Administration and Finance, to serve as the Chief of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) for the general elections in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, scheduled for December 13, 2010. The Deputy Chief of Mission is Steve Griner, Chief of the Electoral Observation Section at the OAS Department for Electoral Cooperation and Observation (DECO).

The first group of observers arrived December 5 and has met with the three political parties participating in the general elections and also with electoral authorities. On Election Day, the OAS Mission will have 11 observers from seven OAS member countries that will be deployed to all of the 15 constituencies throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadine islands.

The EOM will be located at the Bequoia Room of the Grenadine House Hotel and can be contacted on telephone number +784 531-5248.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-480/10

Tourist Pictures

There's a video made from St. Vincent and the Grenadines snapshots on the web at:

There is at least one snap from the floor of the volcano, which you don't see often.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Pollster gives victory to ULP

(Rickey starts his column about polling, but he quickly gets to Sir James' verbal attack on the CARICOM Secty-General, which I also thought was in bad taste, much like the Republicans in the States who would love to see the US go down the tubes if it would hurt Obama.)

Rickey Singh

With eight days to go before Vincentians vote on December I3 for a new I5-member House of Assembly, the Barbadian political scientist and pollster Peter Wickham has forecast a return to power of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves' Unity Labour Party (ULP) for a third consecutive term.

However, Wickham, who has a performance record for getting it right — in most cases — in predicting outcomes of national elections within Caricom thinks that, on the basis of his latest poll, the incumbent ULP could "possibly lose a few seats" from the dozen won at the last general election in 2005.

Wickham's prediction last week coincided with an open verbal attack on the Caribbean Community's outgoing Secretary General Edwin Carrington by former long-serving Vincentian Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell for, as he claimed, "meddling" in his country's politics at this time.

Recognised as an elder statesman of the Caricom bloc of states, Sir James, founder of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and now 79, is not known to engage in this sort of public verbal chastisement of regional officials. Certainly not against someone like the Trinidad and Tobago-born Carrington, who retires this month end after serving the Community as Secretary General for I8 years.

So what political sin did Carrington, who was recently conferred with a knighthood by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, commit to make Sir James so visibly angry?

A quick response could be current political tension in Vincentian election politics, the likely outcome of which seems to be unnerving even seasoned veterans like Sir James.

The Opposition NDP, under the leadership of Arnhim Eustace, is locked in a very tense battle against Gonsalves' ULP to avoid a three-in-a-row defeat on December I3.

Revealing nervousness?

In a telephone conversation I had from St Vincent with Wickham, the director of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) said that the "general mood" points to the ULP's return to power. And while elections usually produce many surprises, he said: "I do not expect a victory for the NDP."

Could it be that Sir James himself had misgivings about the outcome of the December I3 poll when he rushed to the local media to slam Carrington for alleged meddling in Vincentian politics?
After all, according to media reports, what Carrington said during a one-day visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines to assess the damage done by Hurricane Tomas (having also visited battered St Lucia on the same mission) could hardly justify Sir James's expression of "personal disgust".

Carrington said nothing about either the conduct or likely outcome of the coming December I3 poll. He made no criticisms of any party or politician. He did praise the "home-grown capacity" of the Vincentian Government and people for much of the restoration of services and rehabilitation works underway following the destruction caused by Tomas.

Nevertheless, with media images of Carrington and Gonsalves embracing during the secretary general's visit ahead of Caricom's scheduled monitoring of the Decemer I3 poll, Sir James wondered aloud:
"Can the secretary general be impartial?" he asked of the local Searchlight newspaper, and declared:
"It is totally disgusting what I saw this morning in the Searchlight... Prime Minister Gonsalves embracing Carrington and Carrington making statements in praise of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, while the Parliament is dissolved and Caricom is sending an observer mission (for the election) into this country."

The reality

The reality is, as known to Vincentians across the political divide, Carrington's visits to both St Lucia and St Vincent to assess post-hurricane needs had been announced ahead of the secretary general's mission. He had words of commendation for "recovery" efforts by St Lucians as well as Vincentians during his respective visits.

As Sir James was seemingly revealing his personal anxieties over the likely outcome of the poll, supervisor of elections Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb and her team were intensifying preparations for release of the final voters' register this weekend.

The total eligible electorate is expected to be below 95,000, as was the case in 2005 when the ULP won its second term by a I2-3 parliamentary landslide with 55.26 per cent of the valid votes to the NDP's 44.68 per cent.

But Gonsalves and his ULP were to suffer a very hurtful political blow at the country's national referendum in Novermber last year when the Government's bid for a republican-type constitution was roundly defeated.

Meanwhile, materials and financial resources representing post-hurricane emergency aid continue to arrive in St Vincent and the Grenadines from various sources.

The Guyana Government announced early last week delivery of financial asistance of US$I00,000 (EC$270,000) each for St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

President Bharrat Jagdeo also expressed hope that international donors would respond to calls from the rest of Caricom for "much-needed assistance" to enable St Lucia and St Vincent to "return to a state of normalcy".

Read more:

OAS to observe elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines

WASHINGTON, USA -- The Organization of American States (OAS) and the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday signed an agreement for an electoral observation mission to follow the general elections to be held in that country on December 13.

During a signing ceremony held at OAS headquarters in Washington DC, Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin stressed that electoral observation missions "are very important for the OAS, since they are an integral part of the political history of any country.”

Ramdin also noted the Organization’s willingness to support St Vincent and the Grenadines, not only in the electoral process but in the implementation of recommendations presented by the mission.

"We hope that political leaders in the country will demonstrate, as they have done in the past, a clear commitment to democracy and behave responsibly, so that we have a peaceful electoral process," he said.

The permanent representative of St Vincent and the Grenadines, La Celia Prince, highlighted the presence of the OAS in all of the electoral processes her country has had, including the only referendum it has held, in 2009.

"It is very important for us to have the OAS presence, because it is recognized not only in our country and the Caribbean, but throughout the hemisphere as a credible source of elections monitoring, which will give a stronger validity and recognition to the elections,” she said.

The ceremony was also attended by the chiefs of the mission appointed by the secretary general -- Ambassador Frank Almaguer and Specialist Steven Griner of the OAS General Secretariat -- who will lead a team of eleven observers from seven different countries. (Caribbean News Now)

Friday, December 03, 2010

PORORO Celebration in the Bronx


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

CARICOM Secretary-General accused of Politics

I wanted to avoid politics in this blog, but this is too much like the Republicans in the US. The CARICOM Sectrtary praises St. Vincent for its actions during an emergency and Sir James calls that politics? Perhaps Sir James would have preferred that the results would have been more disasterous for St. Vincent, just like the Republicans are so desperate for President Obama to fail that they would be willing for the US to go down the tubes.

There's a limit to politics, fellows. There is no point in hoping for disaster in order to win a job. Just like I noticed the other day that the world's economic problems are all Ralph's fault. That's insanely arrogant--St. Vincent's economy is not that big that it can drag the world along with it.

Let's not go too far.

CARICOM Secretary-General accused of delving into politics

KINGSTOWN - Former prime minister Sir James Mitchell has accused Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Sir Edwin Carrington of getting involved in the politics of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Sir Edwin paid a one-day visit here last week and media reports here last weekend quoted the outgoing CARICOM Secretary General as praising the administration of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves over its response to Hurricane Tomas that hit the island in October.

“The capacity was essentially home grown; whether it be housing or farmers and agriculture, school and education or road,” Sir Edwin said during a press conference after a meeting with Gonsalves.

“That, to me, is a measure of preparedness, a measure of resources and a measure of the people’s response,” he added.

Also present at the news conference were Jeremy Collymore of the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDMA) and Michelle Forbes, Director of the National Emergency Management Office here.

During his visit, Sir Edwin announced that CARICOM would send a team to observe the December 13 general elections.

But Sir James, who was prime minister for 17 years under the New Democratic Party (NDP), said he was disgusted by the comments made by the high-ranking official.

“I am calling to express my disgust at the behaviour of the Secretary General Sir Edwin Carrington getting involved in St. Vincent’s politics at this stage,” Sir James said on local radio.

“How could the Secretary General be praising the government while the Parliament is dissolved and the CARICOM is sending in an observer mission into this country? Can the Secretary be impartial? Does he appear to be impartial in these circumstances?. (CMC) (Nation News)

Moontown -